Psychology Consequences of Abortion among the Post Abortion Care Seeking Women in Tehran

Article excerpt

Abortion is a multidimensional phenomenon with great ethical and social impacts on human beings' life. It has produced very strong pros and cons over the world, and is practiced either in modern health facilities or very unhealthy backyards. The consequences of abortion (psychological, social, or physical) are attributed to variety of variables. In order to have a relatively comprehensive picture of consequences of abortion among Iranian women, post abortion care seeking women (261 women) referred to some Tehran's hospitals were surveyed during April to August 2007 with regard to their socio- economic, demographic and family origin characteristics.

The results revealed that at least one-third of the respondents have experienced psychological side effects. "Depression", "worrying about not being able to conceive again", and "Eating disorder" were reported as dominant psychological consequences of abortion among the respondents with 60.5% and 53.6% and 48.7% respectively. "Decreased self-esteem", "nightmare", "guilt", and "regret" with 43.7%, 39.5%, 37.5%, and 33.3% prevalence rates have been placed in the lower status, respectively..

Keywords: abortion, complications, psychological consequences (Incidental Findings), hospital based

Iran J Psychiatry 2011; 6:31-36

Abortion is the removal or expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the uterus, resulting in, or caused by its death. This can occur spontaneously as a miscarriage, or be artificially induced through chemical, surgical or other means (1, 2). Commonly, abortion refers to a procedure induced at any point during pregnancy. Medically, it is defined as a miscarriage or induced termination of pregnancy before twenty weeks of gestation, whenever the fetus is considered to be nonviable (3).

Abortion is classified as either spontaneous or induced. Spontaneous abortion which is also called miscarriage mainly occurs due to accidental trauma or natural causes, such as structural and numerical chromosome aberration, chronic diseases coincident with pregnancy, and environmental factors. Induced abortion is deliberately/intentionally performed. Induced abortions are further subcategorized into two categories of therapeutic and elective abortions. (2, 4)Induced abortion has been a controversial issue through the ages; anthropologists have found evidence of its existence in every known culture.

The earliest records of recognized abortifacients (agents which cause the premature termination of

pregnancy) which are presumed to have been written more than 4500 years ago are found in ancient Chinese texts. In ancient Greece also, philosophers had accepted abortion as a permissible act to put an end to an unwanted pregnancy or to control population. Reflecting a variety of religious, social, and political forces, laws and regulations permitting or restricting abortion have been enacted over the centuries (5).

Abortion is known as a main cause of maternal mortality, life threatening complications such as hemorrhage, fever, and infection on one hand, and psychological disorders such as regret, guilt, smoking, alcoholism, self-destructive behaviors, and even suicide on the other(6 , 7, 8).

There are too many factors attributed to the abortion which cover socio-economic, emotional, and psychological aspects of human beings' life, particularly those women as direct beds of abortion practices. However, the conclusion of studies do not indicate a linear relation between abortion and its consequences, rather, they show great variations in terms of socio-economic and demographic variables of abortion in care seeking women, and whether their abortion was performed legally or illegally (9). However, the psychological consequences of abortion was also affected by the quality of family life, number of children, planned or unplanned pregnancy, beliefs and genetics (10, 11).

Abortion as an aspect of reproductive behavior is defined and characterized by different bio psychosocial determinants. …